McLennan Park skatebowl closure

Suburbs

The skatebowl at McLennan Park will be permanently closed, following an engineering assessment that found the land beneath the skatebowl is settling differentially and more quickly than anticipated. This settling is causing significant cracks and separation in the concrete, creating an unsafe environment for continued use. Work will begin to remove the skatebowl in September.

Media Release - skatebowl at McLennan Park to permanently close
KITCHENER – The skatebowl at McLennan Park will be permanently closed, following an engineering assessment that found the land beneath the skatebowl is settling differentially and more quickly than anticipated. This settling is causing significant cracks and separation in the concrete, creating an unsafe environment for continued use. Work will begin to remove the skatebowl in September.

The skatebowl was installed in 2011 and is a well-used amenity in the park. Since 2015, the city has had to perform enhanced maintenance on the bowl to address cracking and separation in the concrete. During a routine inspection in April, staff noticed more significant issues with the bowl than normal.  Specifically, several of the foundation piers meant to support and stabilize the bowl appear to be punching through the concrete and approximately half the bowl is sinking and pulling away from the other half, causing the whole bowl to rotate.  These shifting forces have resulted in an increased number of stress fractures and other structural defects, posing a significant safety concern to users.

Upon noticing these issues, the City engaged engineering consultant MTE to conduct a thorough assessment and provide an expert opinion on the integrity of, and options for the future of the skatebowl amenity. That review found that the differential settling and the rate at which the land below the bowl is settling is unpredictable. It is the differential settling that is resulting in the damage to the bowl. If left in place, the skatebowl will require ongoing repair at significant cost, with no guarantee on how long repairs will last to maintain usable lifespan of the feature. Removing the skatebowl is the safest way to ensure McLennan Park remains a great environment for all park patrons to enjoy. 
   
The space where the bowl is currently located will be filled in with clay cap and covered in topsoil and seed to turn the area into passive, landscaped ground until a future use can be determined. The skate street course and all other amenities at the park remain open to the public.  
“Creating an active park on a former landfill site is a unique concept for Kitchener that brings with it continued learnings,” states Niall Lobley, director of parks and cemeteries at the City. “What we know now is that that the continual settling and moving of the landfill below the bowl makes it unsuitable for a structure like the skatebowl. Keeping this feature in place would require ongoing, long-term maintenance at a significant cost, and we agree with MTE that the best option is to remove the bowl permanently.”

Since opening in 2011, McLennan Park has become one of the city’s most well-used parks, providing a unique blend of both active and passive recreation space for thousands of people from across the city and the region every year. “We appreciate that the loss of this amenity will have an impact on the community. We also recognize that this is an opportunity to engage residents on future ideas for the park as we prepare to update the master plan for McLennan Park.”

The city continues to invest in active recreational facilities that support skateboarding, including new facilities at Upper Canada Park and as part of the plans for the new RBJ Schlegel Park. The skate park streetscape features remain open and are available for user enjoyment at McLennan Park. Skateboard bowl features can be found at the skateboard parks at The Aud and Fischer Park. 

Work will begin to remove the skatebowl feature in September. Until that time, fencing has been erected around the site and enhanced security will be present in the park to prevent unauthorized use of the facility while it is closed.
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For more information:
Erin Power
Communications and Marketing Associate, City of Kitchener
519-741-2200 ext.7547 | Erin.Power@kitchener.ca
 Frequently asked questions
Why are you removing the skatebowl?
During a routine inspection, staff noticed more significant issues with the bowl than normal and engaged engineering consultant MTE to conduct a thorough assessment and provide an expert opinion. The review found that the differential settling and the rate at which the land below the bowl is settling is unpredictable, causing continued deterioration and cracks in the concrete.  If left in place, the skatebowl will require ongoing repair at a significant cost, with no guarantee on how long repairs will last. Removing the skatebowl is the safest way to ensure McLennan Park remains a great environment for all park patrons to enjoy. 
What are the issues with the skatebowl?
Several of the foundation piers meant to support and stabilize the bowl appear to be punching through the concrete, approximately half of the bowl is sinking and pulling away from the other half, causing the whole bowl to rotate, resulting an in an increased number of stress fractures.
You’ve done repairs since 2015, why can’t you just continue maintenance?
The deterioration, cracks and separation of concrete are more significant than have been observed before. An engineering review found that the differential settling and the rate at which the land below the bowl is settling is unpredictable and will continue to cause damage to the concrete.  If left in place, the skatebowl will require ongoing repair at a significant cost, with no guarantee on how long repairs will last. Removing the skatebowl is the safest way to ensure McLennan Park remains a great environment for all park patrons to enjoy.
How much would it cost to repair the skatebowl?
Initial estimates suggest cost of repair would be between $200,000 - $300,000. It’s important to note that this would not be a permanent fix as the differential settling and the rate at which the land below the bowl is settling is unpredictable. Ongoing repairs would be required. 
Why can’t you remove and replace it with a new skatebowl?
To construct a new skatebowl would be approximately $350,000. However, we would still not be able to predict how the land beneath a new skatebowl would settle, and therefore have determined that this unique site is unsuitable for this type of infrastructure.  
How much did it cost to install the skatebowl? 
It was $420,000 for the skatebowl and the skate park streetscape. These features opened in 2011. 
How much will it cost to remove the skatebowl?
Initial estimates suggest this will cost less than $100,000.
What is the difference between the skatebowl and the other features at the park? Won’t this happen to those features?
Only the bowl needs to be removed. The main difference is that the differential settling and the rate at which the land below the bowl is settling is unpredictable. The skate park streetscape and other amenities sit atop the land, and are settling uniformly with the landfill as expected. 
What will replace the skatebowl?
In the short term, the space will be filled with clay cap and landscaped. The city will engage residents on future ideas for the park as we prepare to update the Master Plan for McLennan Park in 2019.  
Why did the city build an active park on a landfill site?
There are landfill parks all over the world and it comes with some unique challenges. McLennan Park has become one of the city’s most well-used parks, providing a unique blend of both active and passive recreation space for thousands of people from across the city and the region every year. All of the other amenities (street skate park, playground, splashpad) are unaffected and remain open at the park. 
Are there any other skatebowls in the city? 
The street skate park at McLennan Park remains open. Skatebowl features exist at both The Aud and Fischer Park, and we are investing $350,000 into a new skate bowl at Upper Canada Park that will open in 2019. 
When will work begin to remove the skatebowl?
Mid to late September.
How long will this work take?
We anticipate it will take 2 - 3 weeks, once work begins. 
How much of the park will be closed when you do this work?
The immediate area will be most affected, but the remainder of the park will be open as usual. 
How will you keep people out of the skatebowl in the meantime?
The skatebowl has been closed since April with fencing and signage. Enhanced security measures are also in place to prevent unauthorized use of the facility while it is closed, until it can be removed. 

The city continues to invest in active recreational facilities that support skateboarding, including new facilities at Upper Canada Park and as part of the plans for the new RBJ Schlegel Park. The skate park streetscape features remain open and are available for user enjoyment at McLennan Park. Skateboard bowl features can be found at the skateboard parks at The Aud and Fischer Park. 

If you have questions, please contact our Corporate Contact Centre at 519-741-2345.

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